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Poets' Lifespans
18th century
19th century

Charles E. Carryl
(12/30/1841 - 7/3/1920)

At the end of the nineteenth century, Charles Carryl was hailed as the American Lewis Carroll. Carryl's "Davy and the Goblin" expanded the realm of possibility in American fantasy for children when it first appeared in serial in 1884.

Charles Edward Carryl wrote for his children and for himself; by trade he was a businessman and stockbroker who used his writing as a diversion.

He was born in New York on December 30, 1841, the son of a prosperous businessman. By 1857 he had his rapid ascent up the business ladder, working as an officer and director of various railroad companies until 1872.

In 1874, he landed a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, which he held for the next thirty-four years. From the 1850s through the 1870s the bulk of Carryl's writings were of the stock transfer-business memorandum variety.

In 1869 Carryl married Mary Wetmore, and the first of their two children was born four years later. With the influence of his imaginative children, Carryl's storytelling soon began.

Though the beginnings of Caryll's literary career were inauspicious -- his first published work was the 1882 Stock Exchange Primer -- he was soon thoroughly ensconced in a nonsense fantasy world that would, when it was introduced in St. Nicholas (a children's periodical), eliciting overwhelming approval from child readers.

At the time of his death in 1920, the works of Carryl were still in print and widely read.

If Carryl is to be remembered for any one contribution to American children's literature, it should be that he, more than any other American children's fantasist of the past century, found a key to successful nonsense fantasy so long thought to be the exclusive property of the British.


Source: The Dictionary of Literary Biography.  More specifically, from Douglas Street, "Charles E. Carryl," The Dictionary of Literary Biography; Vol. 42: American Writers for Children before 1900, ed. Glenn E. Estes (Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1985), pp. 122-126.

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What was the world like? Random events during the lifetime of Charles E. Carryl (showing Carryl's age at time of event)

· 1861 (age 20) Lincoln became President while Jefferson Davis became provisional President of the Confederacy; Charles Dickens published Great Expectations; George Eliot published Silas Marner
· 1868 (age 27) future Tsar Nicholas II of Russia born
· 1869 (age 28) Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass published
· 1876 (age 35) Mark Twain published Adventures of Tom Sawyer; Bell invents telephone
· 1881 (age 40) Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government published by Jefferson Davis
· 1890 (age 49) Vincent Van Gogh died at age 43
· 1891 (age 50) Liliuokalani proclaimed Queen of Hawaii
· 1901 (age 60) Queen Victoria of England dies ending 64 year reign
· 1903 (age 62) Wright Brothers fly
· 1918 (age 77) Annihilation of Russian royal family
· 1920 (dies before 79th birthday) Prohibition goes into effect on January 16th

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